Leadership for the National Association of Realtors voted Friday to hold the trade group’s annual convention and trade show in New Orleans next year as planned.

The group originally made plans to take its annual show to New Orleans prior to the devastating hurricanes and subsequent flooding that destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes in the city. Some association officials had expressed concerns about whether the rebounding city would be ready to accommodate the large event, which is scheduled for Nov. 8-13.

The event is expected to bring in as much as $34 million in convention revenues, the association announced. The trade group plans to mount a national education campaign to encourage Realtors and exhibitors to attend the New Orleans conference and trade show.

“Realtors care about communities. We can set no better example to the nation than by keeping our promise to New Orleans and its people to hold our 2006 annual meeting there,” said Tom Stevens, NAR president.

Stevens and NAR staff traveled to New Orleans last month to see for themselves whether the city and its convention facilities will be ready. “And they will,” said Stevens. “It’s amazing how fast the city has pulled together and the progress they have made to get things back to normal.

He said that downtown, the French Quarter and the Garden District largely escaped flooding, and that essential services have been fully restored in those areas. The conference center and conference hotels are bustling with hundreds of workmen repairing hurricane destruction, and accelerating planned pre-Katrina renovations, according to the announcement. Restaurants are reopening on a daily basis, and plans are under way for Mardi Gras in February, Stevens said.

“The health and safety of our members are our primary concerns. We have done our research and we are convinced New Orleans will be a safe and healthful venue for our convention,” Stevens said. Starting in June there will be citywide conferences, many attracting over 20,000 attendees, well before the NAR annual meeting in November. Some 26,477 Realtors, exhibitors and guests attended NAR’s 2005 annual meeting and expo held in San Francisco last October.

“Our annual meeting will help to provide jobs for residents to rebuild their lives and revenues for the city to restore services. We will have a wonderful conference as we celebrate the rebirth of this legendary American city,” Stevens said.

NAR will provide members with reports on the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans during the year to reassure Realtors that the city will be ready for them in November, the group announced.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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